by: Jesse Solomon
Let me introduce you to a woman whose heart is as warm as the Challah she bakes: Jackie Elkins. Jackie has been connected to Beit T’Shuvah for almost 20 years. After seeing Harriett Rosetto and Carrie Newman speaking at a Jewish Federation event, she knew this was the organization that could help get her recently incarcerated brother out of prison. That’s exactly what they did. After her brother’s stay at Beit T’Shuvah came her nephew’s, and then finally, her son was ready to join the ranks. Bradley Elkins graduated from the program, became a PF, and eventually joined the staff as a counselor. He shepherded many people through their recoveries and taught us all valuable lessons along the way (lessons I assume he learned from his wonderful mother).
After all of this, Jackie felt like she wanted to give more back to the community that saved her family. That’s when she came up with the idea for Baked T’Shuvah. With the help of a couple of residents with culinary experience, she created Beit T’Shuvah’s first-ever batch of Challah. At the time, it was only meant as a fun exercise for residents to do. As more residents started making Challah with Jackie, she decided it was time to talk to Beit T’Shuvah’s development team about getting her challah into the big leagues—Friday night services. Back before the COVID lockdown, residents would bake challah on Thursday nights and watch as the next night the congregants enjoyed their delicious creations.
This year, Jackie is being honored with the Spirit of Beit T’Shuvah award, and I can’t think of anyone more worthy of the prize. When Jackie found out she was being honored at the upcoming gala, she suggested a handful of names that should get the award instead. That is truly why she is the Spirit of Beit T’Shuvah. She gives so much to this organization and, in return, asks for nothing more than the chance to watch residents blossom. Although nervous about being in the spotlight, Jackie is immensely excited for the gala. She gets to introduce old faces to new faces and spend a night celebrating the wonders this organization has done for her family and many other families.
Upon meeting Jackie, you immediately feel her warm energy. Despite the events of the last year, that still holds true. This sense of comfort, security, and love is exactly what we need more of in the world and perfectly exemplifies the values of Beit T’Shuvah. Jackie Elkins is an incredible human being, and words cannot express how much she touches the heart of every person she comes in contact with. We thank Jackie for everything she has done and continues to do for this community. We cannot wait to see her get the recognition she deserves at this year’s gala.
For more information on the Beit T’Shuvah Gala, please go to https://beittshuvah.org/gala